I’ve been holding off posting these last two weeks to make space for other voices and because I’m having trouble finding the words. There is so much hurt and grief in the world these days. Sometimes it’s easier to look away or hide. But one thing I know about grief, is that if you don’t express it, it will come back and haunt you later. Allowing grief to express itself opens the possibility for hope and change.
I want to make space for people who are hurting to be heard, and see how that might help all of us to heal in our work places and our communities.
One friend who has been through a lot of grief in her lifetime and is a lifelong champion for racial justice now leads a large non-profit organization. She’s been a role model and resource for me over the years. She’s a white woman married to a Black man and the mother of an adolescent Black son. The painful realities of racism are not just theoretical – she’s had a front row seat on the impact of racism on Black family members.
Last week, my friend brought her team together and spoke openly about her feelings and renewed her commitment as a leader to fighting racism in all of its forms in the work place. She heard shortly afterwards from one of her staff that her remarks didn’t go far enough and she needed to do more. This team member wanted action. My friend thought she was doing her best and was initially hurt. But she made space for those feelings and then she bravely posted this:
“As someone who cares so deeply about racism that was hard to hear and I felt upset and a bit defensive. I really wanted to be “good at this”. But after reflecting, I thought – wow this woman was amazing. She felt brave enough to reach out to management to advance change. And I thought – I can’t be perfect at this – and I need to listen, learn and change. And this is what we all need to do. This is only how change will come about.”
How many of us have avoided speaking up because we’re afraid we won’t get it right? We don’t know what to say? Or that we aren’t doing enough? Raise your hand if this is you.
Now is the time to step up and speak up. Better yet, do something.
I’m still working on how I can contribute to this dialogue and take action to help heal our work places and communities. I plan to start by holding a conversation series where I will listen to leaders and encourage diverse voices to share their stories.My first conversation will be with my wonderful colleague, Catherine Chang on June 30th at 2:00 EST on zoom. To hold your spot contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for more details.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect at this. You just have to be willing to get better at it and help make change happen.
Please send me an email if you’d like to be a part of the conversation. I’d like to hear from black, indigenous and women of colour in leadership roles about their experiences and how we can all contribute to making change in our work places.